Whether this sparkling time of year is your long-awaited favorite, or the endless holiday parties overwhelm you a bit (if we’re being honest, we’re all probably somewhere in the middle!), I think we can all agree that indulgent, decadent meals will be had and possibly hosted at some point or another. For those of us who have struggled with food sensitivities, intolerances, allergies, or fears, mealtime this time of year can be a bit of a struggle. Don’t get me wrong—the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and I love gathering with my loved ones over a rich and nourishing meal. Here are ten healthy swaps to try this holiday season so you can enjoy your gatherings to the absolute fullest:
1. Dairy cream
When my clients cut out dairy, a few things I see are near-instant weight loss, reduced joint pain, clearer skin, allergies gone, digestive conditions improved, and beyond. If you haven’t taken this step yet, I know it can be daunting. The secret is starting small. Using plant-based milk like unsweetened Ripple Pea Milk, Cashew Milk or Coconut Milk (depending on your flavor profile) instead of dairy cream for soups, casseroles, beverages, and other recipes is a great place to start because you’ll see how effortless—and tasty—the switch can be. You can always add a few soaked and blended cashews to make it even creamier for soups!
2. Cream-based dips
The Swap: Homemade hummus or guacamole
This is a big one! Everyone loves a good dip at a party or gathering, but most of them (especially store-bought) are loaded with unhealthy fats, harmful chemicals, and preservatives, and put quite simply—not worth it. Hummus and guacamole are wonderful alternatives as they are veggie-based rather than cream-based, yet still so delicious.
3. Apple pie
The Swap: Baked apples or pears
This one may pleasantly surprise you. Baked apples are so easy to spice up—add your favorite nuts, a few holiday spices, a bit of coconut oil, and voila! A nourishing dessert with no added sugar. Here is a delicious Gluten Free Apple Tart that is low in sugar too. Optional: coconut whipped cream (a crowd-pleaser for the little ones)!
4. White pasta
The Swap: Jovial brown rice gluten-free pasta
Swapping Jovial brown rice gluten-free pasta for regular white pasta is not only for the gluten intolerant—it is also a great way to add some extra protein to your meal. It tastes absolutely delicious and maintains almost an identical texture to white pasta.
5. Table salt
The Swap: Lemon juice and/or herbamare
The amount of sodium each person needs depends on age, physical activity, and health status. Generally speaking, consuming less than one teaspoon each day is a good goal. Unfortunately, most Americans consume around double this amount or more, which can lead serious health issues. Try spicing up your meals this season by adding lemon juice, herbamare, or your favorite herbs. You might be surprised to learn you like the taste even more than the extra salt!
6. Traditional butter
The Swap: Miyoko’s vegan butter
Miyoko’s Kitchen is one of my favorite vegan brands. Miyoko began developing her award-winning dairy-free products when she realized that her compassion for animals conflicted with her love of cheese. She set out on a mission to create delicious, healthy, and ethically sound vegan products made from gluten-free, organic ingredients. Her butter melts and spreads just like traditional butter and will be fantastic for cooking and baking your holiday goodies. I always opt for a dollop of Miyoko’s butter on top of my Christmas dinner sides rather than the cholesterol-containing real deal.
7. Sour cream
The Swap: Kite Hill Sour Cream Alternative
This dairy-free swap is only 50 calories per serving and contains zero cholesterol. You would be shocked by the minimal difference in taste and texture compared to sour cream. It serves as an excellent base for salad dressings, sauces, dips, and can even be used for either sweet or savory recipes.
8. Mashed potatoes
This is another great swap that allows for an added serving of veggies to your day. As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower intake enhances your detoxification systems—something we all need this time of year. If you haven’t tried cauliflower mash yet, you’re in for a treat! Your guests probably won’t even notice the difference. If you’re not a huge cauliflower fan, then I highly recommend a sweet potato mash instead.
The Swap: Monk fruit sweetener in desserts
Ultra-processed sugar wreaks havoc on the digestive system, and we are surrounded by it this time of year. It feeds the growth of damaging organisms like yeast, candida, and harmful bacteria, seriously harming the gut. Monkfruit sweetener is my favorite swap, and I have to say, my processed and sugar-free baking skills have improved since I began using it. I suggest trying Lakanto’s Classic Monkfruit Sweetener and using it 1:1 in your dessert recipes.
10. Sugary holiday cocktails
The Swap: Elissa’s Not So Naughty cocktail
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and if you fancy a drink or two to do so, then I say more power to you. One way to wake up feeling your best after a night of indulging is by reducing the sugar in your drinks. A specialty holiday beverage here and there is ok, but when looking for something a little easier on the gut, try my Not So Naughty Cocktail recipe.
A great way to stay healthy during the holidays is to reference Elissa’s Perfect Plate
During my wellness journey, I learned that healthful living isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you start, you will taste and feel the difference—and prefer it. Remember progress over perfection. Gradual changes to your diet and lifestyle will make the most significant difference long term – and you don’t have to give all of these changes up during the holidays. And if you’re looking for a post-holiday detox, try my delivered S.O.U.P. Cleanse. Cheers to your health this holiday season!